Fairytales For Lost Children

August 21, 2017

WINNER OF THE 2014 POLARI FIRST BOOK PRIZE

 

A GUARDIAN BOOK OF THE YEAR

 

AN AFRICA IS A COUNTRY BOOK OF THE YEAR

 

NAMED BY THE INDEPENDENT ON SUNDAY AS ONE OF THE MOST INFLUENTIAL LGBTI PEOPLE IN BRITAIN

 

NAMED BY DAZED & CONFUSED AS ONE OF THE TOP TEN LGBT WRITERS TO WATCH

 

NAMED BY OKAY AFRICA AS ONE OF THE TOP TEN SOMALI ARTISTS TO WATCH

 

NAMED BY THE GUARDIAN AS ONE OF THE TOP TEN REPRESENTATIONS OF LGBT SEX IN LITERATURE

 

FAIRYTALES FOR LOST CHILDREN is narrated by people constantly on the verge of self-revelation. These characters – young, gay and lesbian Somalis – must navigate the complexities of family, identity and the immigrant experience as they tumble towards freedom. Set in Kenya, Somalia and South London, these stories are imbued with pathos, passion and linguistic playfulness, marking the arrival of a singular new voice in contemporary fiction.

 

Praise for FAIRYTALES FOR LOST CHILDREN

 

‘In this taut, feral, sinewy, fearless book, Diriye Osman makes nothing less than a new map of our world, where a new generation make, in the present, the homes of love for the future of us all. These are times of turbulence and confusion, and Africa is making new kinds of people for the world. They live in this collection of short stories.’

 

- BINYAVANGA WAINAINA

 

'Fantastic writing. I am most highly impressed. I’ve read some of the stories more than once and saw in each one of them plenty of talent everywhere - in every sinew and vein.’

 

- NURUDDIN FARAH

 

‘There is nothing more humbling than good writing except when the author is fiercely beautiful and ferociously generous of heart. That Diriye Osman should possess so much talent is only fair in light of his goodness. Read this book.’

 

- MESHELL NDEGEOCELLO

 

‘The characters in these fairy tales are displaced in multiple, complicated ways. But Osman’s storytelling creates a shelter for them; a warm place which is both real and imaginary, in which they find political, sexual, and ultimately psychic liberation.’

 

- ALISON BECHDEL

 

'I hope people read Fairytales without tearing up the collage. I hope they make the effort to look at all the pieces at once. I hope they see the deep, painful love for family and community that runs through the book, the way that it is, in some ways, an ode to families inherited and found.’

 

- SOFIA SAMATAR

 

‘East Africa. South London. Queer. Displaced. Mentally ill. My excitement over Osman and his writing comes, in part, out of delight at the impossibility of categorization.’

 

- ELLAH ALLFREY, The Telegraph

 

‘At a time when homosexuality is still illegal in most of Africa, and barely features in contemporary African fiction, this book is a welcome surprise. In sensual, erotic, explicit stories, Osman writes about young gay Somalis whose identities are shaped as much by their sexualities as their cultural origins… Osman is a courageous writer but he is also an original one. His language is peppered with Somali words and crafted with all the concision and riches of poetry. At a time when African writing is on the rise, Osman stands above the crowd.’

 

- BERNARDINE EVARISTO, The Independent

 

‘One of the great joys of reading is finding books that detail experiences not often seen in mainstream literature. Fairytales for Lost Children by Diriye Osman is a raw collection of short stories about the queer Somali experience. These are often stories about exile from family, from country, from sanity, from self. Osman works well within the fairytale tradition. He uses patois and slang and rhythmic cadence to tell these stories in the only language they can be told…the power of these stories is undeniable.’

 

- ROXANE GAY, The Nation

 

'Diriye Osman is a new Baldwin.’

 

- BINYAVANGA WAINAINA, The Guardian

 

‘Osman won the Polari prize last year, and it’s easy to see why: this whole book is a joy. This, my favourite story, constructs a queer relationship’s breakup, makeup and then breakup again through the form of a dance between the lovers. It’s not just an examination of a relationship, but an individual’s journey into self-respect and love.’

 

- KIRSTY LOGAN, The Guardian

 

‘It’s a courageous collection that explores subjects often ignored by mainstream media – namely being LGBT in Africa, and being torn between your sexual impulses and your cultural heritage.’

 

- DOMINIQUE SISLEY, Dazed & Confused

 

‘We also truly admire Somali queer writer Diriye Osman, for the honest and humanizing way in which he expresses the existence and survival of the queer African person.’

 

- FAKA, Elle  

 

'Expatriated, diffident, beautiful, full of longing for home, and yet hopeful that home will one day make a place for those it rejects, realising that it itself is unhomed – estranged from itself – if it has no place for those like him. In the meanwhile, whist waiting for that miracle, I’m humbled and inspired by Osman’s flight of words and fancy.’

 

- NEELIKA JAYAWARDANE, Africa Is A Country

 

'Osman’s work exhibits a startlingly original voice that will surely challenge many within the Somali community, not noted for its openness about sexual identity, whilst surprising readers most familiar with the East African country for reports on Islamic militants and piracy.’

 

- MAGNUS TAYLOR, The New Internationalist

 

‘A series of poetic vignettes that utilize personal history, national trauma, vernacular, and linguistic sound patterning as texture, this book weaves together personal narratives of queer refugees—from the mother of the lesbian Somali daughter who casts her dreams into the ocean on paper and bits of rock, to the trans woman nurse in the psych ward who manipulates the medical industrial system for her own safety, to the desperate drag queen femme boy who slides on those first silk stockings, this book follows them all… Fairytales for Lost Children is a must-read for anyone, displaced or not, who has suffered the blessing and curse of coming out as queer in a world not ready to receive it. Texturally beautiful and tonally gorgeous, Osman has created a dark world of language and culture that every lost child can find themselves in.’

 

- JULY WESTHALE, Lambda Literary Review

 

‘Osman’s triumphant first book is a testament to just what can happen when a queer person gets up, gets out and gets something. Though his characters face plenty of painful challenges—homophobia, anti-refugee prejudice, mental illness—Osman’s stories are suffused with the possibility of joy and pleasure, whether in the form of sexual awakening, gender exploration or in learning how to stand up for yourself. Ultimately, his fairytales are affirmations of why life is worth living, even for the lost. The book’s final story, about a gay Somali-Jamaican couple living in London, concludes: “We own our bodies. We own our lives.”’ 

 

- JAMESON FITZPATRICK, Next Magazine

 

‘Diriye Osman is such a poignant and refreshing voice, amongst the hateful ignorance still prominent in today’s society, which is awash with anti-LGBT propaganda… a touching collection of short stories…a poetic masterpiece.’

 

- CAT VAN MAANEN, Wildabout Magazine  

 

‘Set in Somalia, Kenya and London, these stories are concerned with identity, self-realization, displacement and the bonds of family. Osman’s vivid and intimate style brings to life narratives rooted in his own experiences as a gay Somali.’

 

- EDEN WOOD, Diva

 

'Narrated by young gay and lesbian Somalis, Diriye Osman’s Fairytales For Lost Children is a rich, complex and lyrical set of tales that span the complexities of family, identity and the immigrant experience. Set in Kenya, Somalia and South London, this collection of stories is sure to move and enthral in equal measure. One to watch out for.’

 

- WILL DAVIS, Attitude

 

'Each of Osman’s characters has been written into emancipation, whether it be erupting, a gentle acceptance, or falling quietly — like snow in fog. This book is also a record of the physical, mental and emotional effects of conservative power, pressure and prejudice on his richly resistant and defiant characters. In totality we are presented with an exhibition of loss: innocence, fear, family, shame, virginity, love and belonging. But what is lost leaves the space for something more precious, sacred and transformative. Something necessary. The freedom to explore your own ways of being with ownership — that as the last line of the collection states — “We own our bodies. We own our lives.”’

 

- JONATHAN DUNCAN, Africa Is A Country

 

‘An abundance of styles and sensory impressions…these bittersweet stories are painfully beautiful. Yet in amongst all the sadness of exile and repudiation there is always an emphasis on lust, joy and pleasure. Osman’s writing seems to be a carousel of languages, scents, melodies and flavours which celebrates beauty.’

 

- ANNA JÄGER, Chimurenga

 

‘Osman has a knack for creatively exploring an assortment of multifaceted themes through a number of literary fashions — and brilliantly at that. Osman’s first book Fairytales For Lost Children…is a collection of short stories that explore identity, sexuality, immigration, diaspora, family, mental health and trauma, all of which successfully wander through the universality that is the Somali experience.’

 

- HUDA HASSAN, Okay Africa

 

'Osman, in Fairytales for Lost Children, has unleashed a truly amazing collection on the world that every queer-basher, and every racist anti-immigrant demagogue, should be forced to read. It drips empathy off every page, and that’s a rare, and beautiful, thing.’

 

- D. FRANKLIN, Intellectus Speculativus

 

***

DIRIYE OSMAN is photographed by BORIS MITKOV

 

FAIRYTALES FOR LOST CHILDREN is available for purchase via the following links:

 

USA: http://amzn.to/2wpy416

UK: http://amzn.to/2v6OWW5

Canada: http://amzn.to/2wgUvFl

 

 

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